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30. Manivel

Today I received a letter from a devotee in which he says his daughter, who is an M.Sc., has secured a job in his own native town on the day he got my letter. He is an ardent devotee for many years working in the government as an non-gazetted officer with a spotless record of service.

All his four children are brilliant and often top the list in the college. Being a non-gazetted officer, he was unable to offer them the very best in life, but he did his very best to give them higher education. Several years ago when his son passed PUC with shining scores, he was faced with his son's burning desire to join engineering college and his inability to support him in a college for five years. The government rules work in a strange fashion. As his salary crosses the income limit prescribed for eligibility for scholarship, his son could not apply for scholarship!  Prior to studies is the hurdle of admission. Scores of applicants with distinction compete for seats. If merit alone were the criterion, his son would surely win.

There are other considerations. As a government official, he knew many influential persons. But in matters of getting a favour, though it may be a deserving case, these contacts do not yield results. Still he called on a local VIP. When he arrived there, many bigwigs were waiting to meet the VIP. He was not willing to wait and make his representation too. Reluctantly, however, he waited his turn. The VIP was polite enough to promise to do his best for his son. Not finding any warmth in the promise, he returned home. He later met me and described his plight. He is an ardent devotee, but at that moment of despair to console him with a reference to prayer or faith could be embarrassing. He left remarking, "I have faith in Mother. Let us see."  I was happy he said that.

When the results were out, his son had been selected. He called on me with great joy and constantly exclaimed his surprise at the selection of his son, saying "Mother is truly great."

He often used to meet me and narrate his experiences with Mother. Once when he was cycling home, he saw a woman loudly wailing, surrounded by a crowd. He stopped to see what it was. The child of the woman was lost and she had given up hope of finding the child after half a day of search. The more he heard about the details, the more he was moved. He thought he would cry if he listened any more. He moved to one side of the road next to a house, parked his cycle and called Mother to relieve the distress of this hapless mother. He was so absorbed in his prayer that he almost forgot what was going on around him. His eyes began to close and he felt lost inside. Suddenly there was a shout which jerked him back to awareness. He rushed towards the crowd to know if anything untoward had happened to the woman. On the contrary, someone who had found the child brought it to where the mother was and hence the shouts of joy.

He was introduced to me thirty years ago when he came to my native town to work in the taluq office  We used to meet at the house of a common friend. My friend used to describe to me, after he left, how efficient this man was at the taluq office. He earned a reputation at the office for efficiency, integrity and, above all, for his soft behaviour towards friends and a great willingness to work hard. Later, for several years we had not met. Our contacts renewed after about seven or eight years when both of us moved to another town and ran into each other.

That was at the prime of his life and mine too. He was promoted in his job and was working hard to build up a career winning the good remarks of his superiors. So we met rarely. One Sunday morning he appeared at my house with worry writ large on his face.

He explained to me that things were not going smoothly at the office and his next promotion was at stake. I was wondering how such a person could ever miss a promotion. He said that in circumstances like this anything could happen. It was impossible to predict, he said, who would be promoted and who would be denied. He added, "I am frustrated by life around and knowing how I am denied the promotion. This is clear injustice. But what worries me more is what is in store for the future. I was not even selected for the list of candidates from which the promotees will be selected. I appealed against that decision. The government has rejected my appeal. The implication of this rejection causes me greater worry. It means I am ineligible for any future promotion."

He came to me that day to find out whether someone in Madras could be approached to rectify the mistake and have justice restored to him. That was a decade when, among youth, it was a fashion to be an atheist. At that time he was an admirer of those ideals. Those were the first years of my coming to the Ashram. He was not one to whom I could speak about spirituality, much less prayer. I did not have the courage to propose to him that his prayer to Mother would restore justice to him. But that was a moment when such an idea could be spoken. Maybe he would listen to me. I mustered courage at last and briefly explained to him Sri Aurobindo's role in national freedom, his yoga and the powers of Mother, giving a few examples. I ended up suggesting that he could visit the Samadhi. He seemed to listen with approval.

After ten days, he called on me with excitement to say that his name was there in the selected list of Deputy Tasildars and he would soon be posted elsewhere. I asked him to clarify  whether it was the list from which selection was to be made. He corrected me by saying that his name was in the selected list.

He explained that he had visited the Samadhi on the very day he met me earlier and felt uplifted. He came away with a feeling that his cause would be upheld. "I never expected that things would move so fast and so well. I don't understand how it all happened. For me it is very surprising," he said. That was how he became a devotee long ago.

book | by Dr. Radut